The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek
24Jan/080

Crank That Podcast!

The new IMN podcast is up and running - you can download it from the link or listen via the Flash player on the main site. You may thank Soulja Boy's appearance at Conseco for the blog title.

On a somewhat-related topic, I was perusing a Techdirt article regarding the value of free music (Soulja Boy, of course, catapulted to fame via the appropriation of his song and accompanying dance on YouTube on other online sources) - although I'm uncomfortable with the way some of the statements and statistics are thrown around, such as:

"the numbers suggest more bands than ever before are performing live and making more money than ever before performing live" (I'd like to see a larger sample and further data on how fuel costs and other factors are eating into that higher payday - at least anecdotally, I'd suspect folks on the lower end are feeling a huge pinch)

and

"In fact, more people are making money from music today than at any time in history" (Although I understand that the writer is using this to point out a shift from selling CDs to other revenue streams, this statement begs for more context and a larger sample of artists)

Despite my quibbles, I understand what the writer is saying here, and I'd agree with his displeasure with the hopefully-soon-to-be-dying DRM model. I'll even back his assertion that recorded music can be an effective loss-leader, if you will, for other parts of the artist's career, like live shows and merchandising. Technology has forced musicians to adapt before - recordings in general, jukeboxes, and synthesizers all forced them to change and modify how they play.

It's the difference between the ability of music to be distributed freely versus the attitude that the listener is entitled to receive those recordings for free. Although, in an earlier post, the Techdirt author noted that he did not endorse the unauthorized downloading of recordings, there are obviously quite a few other folks with the opposite opinion. And the theoretical models of using free tracks as loss-leaders only works when the listeners actually goes forward with the artist. While my experience may be anecdotal, the vast majority of unauthorized downloaders take the recordings because that's all they want (even if it was never offered by the artist). And this story always gets me.

My concern ends up at a weird intersection of economics and ethics - I can see how the money part works, but it's dependent on behavior that I've observed as unreliable at local and mid-size levels (and the jury still seems to be deliberating at the national and international level). Finally, not every artist is going to have a dance to back up their recordings - there can be only one Soulja Boy, after all.

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